Non-Credit Certificate Programs

Explore frequently asked questions about The University of Chicago's non-credit certificate programs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions, grouped by category. If you find that you still do not have an answer to your questions, please connect with our admissions team via email or fill out our request form below to receive more information and have someone reach out to you.

Do I have to apply to a specific program to begin taking courses?

No, students do not need to apply to a program to begin taking courses. Students are eligible to take one course in any professional development program without enrolling to that program. However, if students want to complete and earn a certificate, they are required to submit an enrollment registration form to their program of interest that will be reviewed by a program director. Please visit our how to enroll pages by program below for more enrollment information.

How do I register for courses?

You can register for courses online by visiting the online course registration portal and creating an account. You can also register by phone at 773.702.1722. Students who want to apply discounts to their tuition must register by phone. 

Please see the portal login and registration instructions below.

Is there a start date for the professional development non-credit certificate programs?

There is no specific start date for professional development non-credit certificate programs. Students can start taking courses any quarter. Core courses are typically offered 2-3 times per year, while electives are offered once or twice per year. Students should note that all courses aren’t offered each quarter, so it’s important to plan ahead to complete the necessary requirements. As a new student, your program manager will invite you to join an advising session in which you’ll be asked about your plan and timeline for completion. Based on this information program managers will be able to help you establish a course schedule toward program completion.

Do I qualify for financial aid as a non-credit student?

Non-credit students do not qualify for financial aid. However, the financial investment in UChicago's non-credit certificate program is significantly less than that of a degree seeking program.

How much does a certificate program cost? 

The total investment to enroll in a certificate program varies. Please visit our tuition and fees page by program below for more information:

What are the benefits of enrolling in a professional development non-credit certificate program?

Professional development non-credit certificates allow students to further their professional education by gaining skills and knowledge in a targeted field or subject matter. Students can take as many courses as they like in a variety of different subject areas and hone their skills. The benefits of enrolling in a professional development non-credit certificate program extend beyond the classroom. Students can leverage the connections made in their courses to build their professional networks. All professional development courses are taught by instructors who are active industry professionals with years of experience in their field. Furthermore, career development is what makes the non-credit certificate programs unique. The professional development team strives to conduct events, and provide career services and resources for current students and program completers focusing on in-demand industry skills, networking, and resume writing that expand beyond the classroom, and dive deeply into diverse subjects.

Are there post program completion benefits for non-credit students?

Yes, students who complete a professional development non-credit certificate program have access to a selection of alumni benefits, including access to networking resources, and job search tools, like resume reviews, and monthly webinars. 

Note: These benefits are only available to students who have completed a certificate program with the University of Chicago Professional Education.

How else can a non-credit certificate boost my career?

For more information on how UChicago's non-credit certificates can benefit your career, please visit our career benefits pages by program below:

Can I take professional development non-credit courses online?

We currently offer six certificate programs. Two certificates, Project Management and Conscious Leadership and Team Management have online offerings. All other certificates are fully online programs. Online certificates have a weekly synchronous component conducted through Zoom. Our certificate programs allow you to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills under the expert direction of faculty, and those working in the field, while interacting with other University of Chicago students and with course instructors. Check out course format by certificate program below:

What happens in online courses?

When you take an online course you’ll get the same information, rigor, same instructors as you do in the face-to-face classes through weekly synchronous sessions facilitated by course instructors. The difference is that you’ll interact with them in a virtual classroom rather than a physical one. Individual courses differ in their structure, but in general, you’ll have access to your syllabus and assignments through the University’s online learning management system (LMS), called “Canvas,” which allows you to access all course materials, assignments, quizzes, and projects, and to communicate with your instructor and classmates electronically. Like our face-to-face courses, the online courses emphasize critical thinking, discussion, and project-based learning throughout its curriculum. There's a mandatory weekly synchronous component referred to as "synchronous sessions" with all online classes. Synchronous sessions are one hour to one hour and 30 minutes in length depending on the certificate. Synchronous sessions are either scheduled in the evening during the week or on Saturday morning.

Do I ever need to come to campus physically?

No. You will have face-to-face contact with your instructor and the other students during the “synchronous” classroom sessions, during which you’ll participate in a live discussion online via a technology called Zoom.

What is the time commitment for an online course?

That depends upon the program. In general, you’ll spend at least as much time on an online course as you would in a face-to-face class, since much of the material will be delivered as readings and written responses to questions or online discussions. Typically, students spend an average of seven hours a week, depending on their own experience with the subject matter working on the course. Depending on your professional experience and credentials, additional time may be expected.

Do I have to be a computer expert to participate in an online program?

No, not at all. The learning management system, Canvas, used by the University of Chicago is very user friendly. You do need some basic computer skills, however, such as the ability to conduct a basic search on the web using a browser, download software from the internet, send and receive emails, open attachments, and save documents in Word, Excel, and as PDFs. It may take a few minutes when you get started to learn how to use the online discussion boards and synchronous class meeting spaces, but there will be detailed instructions along the way for using the technology until you get used to it. The University’s Canvas site is a great place to review online tutorials in case you get stuck or want to learn a more advanced feature of the system. Some classes may require additional technology which will be noted in the course description and provided through the course directly.

What is a synchronous session? What is Zoom?

Each online course includes weekly synchronous sessions, which are additional opportunities for discussion, lecture, student presentations, and interaction. The synchronous sessions are pre-scheduled dates and times when you, your instructor, and your classmates will all gather in the online meeting room at the same time. We currently use a program called Zoom to conduct synchronous sessions. The Zoom platform is fully integrated into Canvas. Synchronous sessions are accessible directly through your Canvas course sites.

Is there any orientation to online learning, and to the learning management system?

Yes. Once you’re accepted in the certificate program, you’ll be directed with a brief  Canvas tutorial that will provide you with an opportunity to use the system and get a feel for the technology and its features before you begin your first course.

Will I need to buy textbooks, or is everything included online?

Some courses have textbooks, but others do not. The required materials and texts are listed in the course syllabus for each course and available at no cost through your Canvas course sites. Other texts may be recommended by course instructors in addition to available course materials but to be purchased at your discretion and based on interest to further your professional development at the course level. 

How do I register and access the materials for my courses?

When you register for a course, you will receive an email with information about how to access your materials. You will either use your CNet ID, which you will claim through the University and will create an ID and password, or the email address you registered under. You’ll receive more information about this process once you’re accepted into your program.

I can’t make the synchronous session.

Synchronous sessions are mandatory and key to the professional development offered at the course level. In most cases, you won’t be able to complete a class successfully if you miss more than two synchronous sessions. You should make arrangements with your instructor as early as possible if you are going to miss a synchronous session. You will need to watch the recording of the session when it is posted to the Canvas course site and you may be asked to complete additional assignments assigned by the instructor. Attendance in the synchronous sessions is mandatory, so missing a session may affect your final grade.

What kind of equipment and software do I need in order to take an online course?

At a minimum, you will need the following hardware and software to participate in the online programs:

  • Access to a modern computer
  • Reliable high-speed internet access via cable, Ethernet, or WIFI
  • A recent version of a reliable internet browser
  • An email account and service that is dependable and easily accessible at various times of the day
  • A basic microphone for participation in group discussions
  • A sound card and speakers for participation in group discussions

I can’t hear the audio during the synchronous session.

First make sure your headphones are plugged into the proper jack, and also check that the master volume setting on your computer is not muted. You can check this by right clicking on the small speaker icon on the lower right corner of your desktop. If you have verified that your volume is on and are still having trouble with audio, check to make sure the speaker icon on the top of the synchronous session screen is green. Click on the down arrow next to the icon to adjust your volume.

My microphone is not working.

First make sure your microphone is plugged into the appropriate jack. Next ask the host if the microphone rights for participants have been turned on. You’ll be muted by default as you’re entering your synchronous session. Be sure to turn the “mute” functionality on and off as needed. Your instructors will help you with it and inform you how to best use it during class time in Zoom.

I can’t get the modules to load and open.

This is usually browser or cache related. You might also try logging out and logging back into Canvas as well as shutting down your computer and restarting. In most classes, a weekly module is released after the completion of the previous synchronous session, so expect to have weekly content progressively released throughout the course.

How do I empty my cache?

Enter the search phrase “how do I enter my cache [insert computer model]” in a Google search.

I can’t view Word documents.

Make sure you are using one of the recommended browsers, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome. If you are still having problems, try emptying your cache, or contact your program manager.

I can’t view PowerPoint slides.

Please make sure you are using one of the recommended browsers. Also, if you are using a recommended browser and are still having problems, try emptying the cache on your computer.

How do I contact IT Services for help?

You can call IT Services at 773.702.5800 (option 4) or email them at Their hours of operation are 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Central Time.

I can’t remember my CNET password.

Students can reset their password online on this page.

I can’t access the online library resources, like the AMA Manual of Style.

The permissions on your CNET account may need to be adjusted. Please leave a message with your program manager.

What is a professional development non-credit certificate?

UCPE non-credit certificates are focused on offering professional development and educational opportunities for students on a variety of topics, including Conscious Leadership, Editing, Medical Writing and Editing, Regulatory Writing, Clinical Trials Management, and Strategy Essentials of Project Management. Our certificates are rigorous in nature and provide students with the opportunity to dive deeply into an area of interest and to broaden a skill set. Students who enroll in non-credit certificate programs enjoy similar benefits of being connected to the University—camaraderie with fellow classmates, engaging with instructors who are industry experts, and being part of the alumni community. A non-credit certificate is a sequence or group of courses focusing on an area of specialized knowledge. The goal of a certificate program is to contribute to a student’s ability to meet standards of competence within a given field. Non-credit certificates are not degree programs. Students do not earn credit toward a graduate degree.

What is the difference between a professional development non-credit certificate and a for-credit certificate?

While non-credit certificates offer the opportunity to study a specific subject without applying to a degree program, students do not earn credit for these programs. Although non-credit students may earn grades in the courses they take, courses are non-credit and cannot be transferred to a credit-bearing or degree program. Additionally, the enrollment process for non-credit certificates is often less onerous than for-credit programs. Enrollment requirements for non-credit certificates include a resume, and a personal statement. Although students need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to enroll in a certificate, demonstrated professional experience is considered for enrollment if the minimum degree requirement has not been met.

By completing a professional development non-credit certificate, can I earn credit toward a graduate degree?

No, students who complete a professional development non-credit certificate cannot transfer credit toward a graduate degree. Non-credit certificates provide professional education but do not carry credit toward an undergraduate or graduate degree.

What is the difference between a certificate and a certification?

Certificate programs provide professional training and are usually awarded by an educational institution. They also do not have to be renewed. Certifications are awarded by governmental and professional agencies, and often need to be renewed to be kept active.

Are there other non-credit certificates?

Yes, UPCE offers a variety of standalone classes and series of courses outside the non-credit certificate portfolio. Check out the UCPE website or ask your program manager for more information.

You can find login and registration instructions on our Registration page.

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